House increases penalties for passing stopped school buses

Posted May 14, 2013

— Drivers who pass a stopped school bus could lose their license and pay a fine in addition to being charged with a crime, under a proposal that the House approved unanimously Tuesday.

House Bill 428 would tack a $500 fine onto the misdemeanor charge for passing a school bus that has its stop-arm out and its red lights flashing. A driver who hits anyone while passing a stopped school bus would face a $2,500 fine as well as a felony charge, and the fine would increase to $5,000 if the person dies after being hit.

Also, the Division of Motor Vehicles could revoke for one year the license of any driver convicted of two misdemeanors under the legislation within a three-year period. A third misdemeanor could result in a permanent loss of driving privileges.

Drivers convicted of a felony under the proposal would lose their licenses for two or three years, and a second felony offense would lead to a permanent revocation.

Research by North Carolina State University has shown that 576,000 vehicles pass stopped school buses in North Carolina each year, said sponsor Rep. Edward Hanes, D-Forsyth.

Co-sponsor Rep. Danny Lambeth, R-Forsyth, said five children were killed last year after being hit by a car or truck while trying to board or get off a school bus.

"We must do everything we can to put an end to this sort of driver negligence," Hanes said.

Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford, applauded the bill, saying drivers would "fly by" his stopped school bus when he drove one in college. He said he would angle the bus when he pulled to a stop so other drivers could see there were children on it.

"I feared that my kids would get hurt," Brandon said. "People run past that (stop-arm) like it's nothing."

The bus safety bill was among dozens the House considered during a marathon session Tuesday as the General Assembly approaches Thursday's crossover deadline. Aside from spending bills, all legislation must clear either the House or Senate by Thursday in order to continue to be considered this year.

Other measures getting House approval Tuesday include the following:

  • A proposed constitutional amendment repealing a literacy test for voting.
  • A bill that would curb local programs that increase inspections of low-income housing in problem areas.
  • A bill that would penalize people for selling or driving vehicles that don't have two working brake lights.
  • A bill that would eliminate additional license revocation penalties for people convicted of driving with a revoked license.

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  • gregbscis May 16, 2013

    Good, I have witnessed drivers passing stopped buses with flashing lights on an undivided two lane road. This an example of how some NC drivers don't pay attention. No wonder, we are number 5 in the nation for the most traffic accidents! Of course, now if we can teach those people not to tail gate, look over their shoulder before changing lanes, and not to drive in one's blind spots for long, they can improve their driving further. All of you bad drivers out there, you are not Richard Petty nor Michael Schumacher so stop trying to be like them.

  • LastSon1981 May 16, 2013

    I wish people knew the laws better... for example, you DO NOT STOP for a school bus if it is a 4 lane road with a double yellow turn lane in the middle if you are going the opposite direction.


    Cause kid ever has or ever will run across a four lane road to get to the bus. No this has never happened and say in event that it does because thats in the law are you at fault if you hit the kid. I say better safe than sorry. I dont want the fact that I took a childs life cause I was late for work on my conscience

  • kornfan2448 May 15, 2013

    It's a start, but the penalties should be harsher. No excuse for passing a stopped school bus, period!

  • Krimson May 15, 2013

    I found this quick and easy picture that can help educate anyone on when to stop for a school bus... Please post WRAL...


  • smcallah May 15, 2013

    Along with this they really need to educate drivers on when they have to stop by law. I bet 99% of you don't know that you don't have to stop for a school bus on a 5 lane road where the middle lane is a left turn lane and the bus is going the opposite direction from you. More of you might know that you don't have to stop when it is a 4 lane road with a median in the middle and the bus is going the opposite direction.

    So many times am I stopped on a 5 lane road because the people in front of me are stopped going the opposite direction from the school bus.

    Those are the 2 major exceptions that most people don't know and waste their time every morning stopping.

    Of course, if you see a child illegally crossing the road for one of those stops, you should definitely stop for him, you're in a car.

  • oleguy May 15, 2013

    Its not enough, Pass a stopped bus,, Needs to be more,,,
    10 days in jail, first time.automatic... Increase the fines,,
    There is no excuse to pass a stopped bus

  • allarskc May 15, 2013

    Revoking a license doesn't do much. Countless people drive without them and just don't get caught.

  • peace2u May 15, 2013

    I learned to drive on a school bus and had 4 routes a day. Even at the tender age of 16 I never let a kid off the bus if s/he was in any danger crossing the street. All vehicles didn't always stop in those days, either, but most of them did. Everyone is in too big a hurry these days and too self-absorbed. I think people who pass a school bus with the lights on and a sign out deserve a big fine.

  • peace2u May 15, 2013

    Finally this GA may do something worthwhile!!

  • Krimson May 15, 2013

    Install a camera on each school bus to catch the plate of any car that passes it while dropping off kids. Send the Police to the driver's house... Why is this even an issue???